Before joining Mother Jones, Matt was a local reporter for the dearly departed Washington Examiner. He has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chicago Public Radio, and the Times of Trenton.
From left: Dolphins linemen Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, and John Jerry. While Incognito was identified as a bullying leader, all three took part, according to the report.
In November, after Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the team due to bullying from teammate Richie Incognito, the NFL commissioned an independent investigation to look into the matter. The results of that investigation, released today, reveal a pattern of racist, homophobic, and generally awful instances of harassment that took place inside and outside the Dolphins' locker room. Read the lowlights—which are vulgar and graphic—below.
Incognito leaves a racist voicemail for Martin (page 10):
"Hey, wassup, you half-nigger piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I'll shit in your fuckin' mouth. I'm gonna slap your fuckin' mouth, I'm gonna slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fuck you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."
Incognito and others taunt and harass an Asian American trainer (page 22):
Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey admitted that they directed racially derogatory words toward him, including "Jap" and "Chinaman." At times, according to Martin, they referred to the Assistant Trainer as a "dirty communist" or a "North Korean," made demands such as "give me some water you fucking chink," spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for "rubby rubby sucky sucky," and called his mother a "rub and tug masseuse." Martin and others informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer with jokes about having sex with his girlfriend. Incognito admitted that these types of comments were made to the Assistant Trainer.
On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. Martin reported that the Assistant Trainer confided to him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor prank, finding it derogatory and demeaning.
Incognito and an anonymous teammate exchange text messages joking about shooting black people (page 103):
Player B: Fuck yea! That what I'm doin my .338 in. Badass
Incognito: That's gonna be sick
Player B: Especially if u plan living in Arizona in the future, that's exactly what you want
Incognito: Yea. For picking off zombies
Player B: Lol isn't that why we own any weapons!?
Incognito: That and black people
Player B: Mmm def all black ppl
Incognito and others, including a coach, engage in homophobic taunting (page 19):
Incognito and others acknowledged that Player A was routinely touched by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey in a mockingly suggestive manner, including on his rear end, while being taunted about his supposed homosexuality. Incognito specifically admitted that he would grab Player A and ask for a hug as part of this "joke."
Martin said that on one occasion, Pouncey physically restrained Player A and, in full view of other players, jokingly told Jerry to "come get some pussy," and that Jerry responded by touching Player A's buttocks in a way that simulated anal penetration. Pouncey and Jerry both denied this allegation. Given the seriousness of this allegation and the conflicting recollections, we decline to make any findings about this particular alleged incident.
The evidence shows that [offensive line coach Jim Turner] overheard and participated in this behavior toward Player A. During the 2012 Christmas season, Coach Turner gave all of the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. In each gift bag except for Player A's, Turner included a female "blow-up" doll; Player A's bag included a male doll.
Incognito tries to get teammates to get rid of evidence—a "fine book" that lists financial penalties for offenses like wearing "ugly ass shoes" or being a "pussy" (page 42):
"They're trying to suspend me Please destroy the fine book first thing in the morning."
Martin tells his parents about the taunting and his struggles with depression (page 15):
"I care about my legacy as a professional athlete. But I'm miserable currently. A therapist & medication won't help me gain the respect of my teammates. I really don't know what to do Mom."
"People call me a Nigger to my face. Happened 2 days ago. And I laughed it off. Because I am too nice of a person. They say terrible things about my sister. I don't do anything. I suppose it's white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek"
Martin texts a friend with the pros and cons of continuing to play football (page 112):
-Football games are fun
-I can make a lot of money playing football and be set for life
-I have a legacy that will live after I die
-not many people get to live their childhood dream
-I am the left tackle for the Miami dolphins
-if I quit, I'll be known as a quitter for the rest of my life
-my legacy at Stanford will be tarnished
-I will never be able to look any coach from my past in the eye
-I hate going in everyday.
-I am unable to socialize with my teammates in their crude manner
-I already have a lot of money. I could travel the world, get my degree. Then get a real job
-I could lose 70 lbs and feel good about my body
-I won't die from CTE
-Maybe I'll start to LIKE myself
-I don't need to live lavishly. I could live very frugally
-why do I care about these people? All I need is my family
A pedestrian battles the snow and cold wind as he crosses Wicker Street in Sanford, N.C.
An ice storm the National Weather Service has called "catastrophic...crippling...paralyzing... choose your adjective" is sweeping across states from Texas to North Carolina, knocking out power in more than 100,000 homes and businesses as it makes its way toward the Northeast. Here are some photos showing the early effects of the storm.
University of Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam shocked the sports world Sunday when he announced that he is gay. The National Football League has never had an openly gay player, and the timing of his announcement—just weeks before the league's so-called combine, when draft-eligible players like Sam are put through the paces in front of scouts and team executives—has been hailed as incredibly brave.
But as Kevin Drum noted Sunday night, a group of NFL front-office types had a different take. Severalteam executives anonymously questioned Sam's talent and pro prospects in a SI.com article published after his announcement. Sample line, from a personnel assistant: "I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet. In the coming decade or two, it's going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it's still a man's-man game." Worse still, some of them argued that teams would lower Sam on their draft boards, or not draft him at all, simply because he's gay.
Is that legal? Do state and local laws protect potential draftees from discrimination based on sexual orientation? And what about the NFL's own nondiscrimination policy? Here's a brief explainer:
During his pre-Super Bowl press conference Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if he would ever call a Native American by the name of the Washington football team. Goodell hedged, instead saying the name has been "presented in a way that honors Native Americans." (Goodell sent a letter to members of Congress last year defending the name.)
On Wednesday, ThinkProgress reporter Travis Waldron published an exhaustive account of the fight to rebrand the slur, revealing that the Washington team consulted with Republican advisers—including GOP messaging consultant Frank Luntz (of "death tax" fame), former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer (of Iraq War fame), and former Virginia governor and US senator George Allen (of "macaca" fame)—on how to handle criticism of the team's name.
If Goodell, team owner Dan Snyder, and friends like Luntz, Fleischer, and Allen don't understand the issue, they might want to take a look at an ad the National Congress of American Indians released Monday. Watch here:
Football players at Northwestern University, led by quarterback Kain Colter, took formal steps Tuesday to gain labor union representation. Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA linebacker who's now the president of the National College Players Association, an athlete advocacy group, filed a formal petition with the National Labor Relations Board's Chicago office on behalf of the players.
If certified, the union would be known as the College Athletes Players Association. CAPA's initial goals don't call for salaries for players, instead focusing on medical protection for concussions and other issues, guaranteed multiyear scholarships even if players get injured, and a trust fund players could use to finish schooling after their NCAA eligibility expires. Athletic departments of schools in the five major conferences currently generate $5.15 billion in revenue.
To no one's surprise, the NCAA opposes to the move—on the grounds that extending medical protection and guaranteeing multiyear scholarships would detract from education:
This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.
Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes.
Student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes.
Or, as SB Nation writer Rodger Sherman summarizes it:
So @insidethencaa is gonna fight a group pushing for concussion reform by saying players' brains are important. Got it.
This case will likely land in federal court, where it would join O'Bannon v. NCAA, a case in which a group of former players are suing to receive revenue from game rebroadcasts, DVD highlights, apparel, and other merchandise. (That lawsuit has already led to the death of Electronic Arts' popular NCAA Football series of video games; EA settled with the players.) If the O'Bannon litigation is any indication, it may be years before we know the fate of unions in college athletics. Until then, get ready to hear a lot of griping from some highly paid college officials.